Piedmont residents will soon be paying more for water after the city council, on Tuesday, approved an increase to the municipal water rate.
With a 5-3 vote, the council agreed to add a $5 surcharge to residential water bills to help pay for much needed repairs to the city’s water tanks. The $5 charge will last for five years, at which point it will be reduced to $1.30. Officials said this will cover the expected $10,000 per month cost to upgrade and repair the tanks.
The repairs, which have been needed for quite some time, will include painting the tanks, which haven’t been painted since they were first installed in 1982. Additionally, the protective coating inside the tanks will need to be replaced.
By completing the necessary repairs and upgrades, the city is hoping to avoid major fines, which have been threatened by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for failure to address the issue sooner.
Prior to agreeing to the water rate increase, officials first rejected a motion to also include a $2 surcharge to be added to residential garbage collection bills to help pay for needed equipment purchases and repairs.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council agreed to reduce the pool rate increases that were approved just two weeks ago.
After hearing complaints from concerned citizens, Craig Russell, facilities manager, urged the council to reconsider the rate increase. Russell argued that the aquatic center’s previous rates were in line with similar facilities nearby. He also cautioned council members that an increase could potentially prevent a number of residents from using the facility, which would also result in reduced revenue from concessions.
The council agreed that the initial increase was too much too soon and voted to drop the rate, while still maintaining an increase over last year, in order to pay for facility upkeep and repairs.
A single day-pass will now be $6, down from $7.50, while season passes for individuals will be $75 per year instead of the previously approved $100. Family season passes will be reduced to $125, down from $200. The rate for private parties will be returned to last year’s rate of $145 per event.
Bills for payment were approved in the amount of $867,070.48.
Piedmont Fire Chief Mike Ledbetter recognized the departments from around the area that participated in a recent memorial service, honoring former longtime Assistant Fire Chief James “Smokey” Buttram, who passed away recently. Those departments included Centre Fire Department, Spring Garden Fire Department, Cherokee County Firefighter Honor Guard, and Anniston Fire Department, along with Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade.
The next regular Piedmont City Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1st, following the work session, which is set for 5:30pm.